Death can occur at any time of the day or night and for many of the families, it is important to have the body cremated as soon as possible, especially if the death is from COVID-19. We try to follow their wishes when possible, knowing that for them it is an important moment and one that will last them a lifetime. This was our 128th cremation service since May of this year, occurring late in the evening.

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The Partners


COVID-19 is still taking the lives of older Cambodians but Thanks to the quick action of the Government we are doing much better than other countries especially the USA. While people debate the need for vaccinations the government here has made it available to all who want it. While people debate the need for a booster shot, most Cambodians already have them, including me. While people debate the need for teens to get the vaccine, all our older kids have already had their second dose… and while the world debates the necessity of younger children getting the vaccine, they have now made it mandatory here before schools can reopen.

Mr. Somoeun, a former resident and now the newly appointed Director of Operations for the Wat Opot Community had big shoes to fill with the resignation of Mr. Dara a few months ago. He has done well and like Mr. Dara, he is able to improvise when a situation calls for it.

Today it was time to have 18 of our 6 to 12-year-old children vaccinated for the first dose. It was nice when they left and so they used the pickup truck, which the kids prefer to the van.

But while they were getting their shots it started to rain hard and showed no sign of stopping anytime soon… but that was not a problem for Mr. Oeun and the kids.

They all simply jumped into the truck cab and enjoyed the ride home. They have an appointment in a few weeks to get their second injection. Although there are some naysayers around, for the most part, people in Cambodia are appreciative of what the government is doing.

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The Partners


Before our crematorium was built, some 20 years ago, we use to dig holes in the ground, fill it with wood, place the bodies of our deceased AIDS patients on top of the wood, and light it on fire. It took hours to burn and at times a thunderstorm would pass through and fill the hole with water. Let’s just say that it was not a pleasant job, without going into detail.

Most people now are not aware of this time in our history, and the area became overgrown with brush, which always saddened me because to me this place had special meaning.

As the years passed by, we did add some dirt and tried to grow a garden there, but long beans were about all we could grow… not my favorite vegetable and certainly not what anyone would consider a memorial of any significance. 

Money was always a problem because I was about the only one who saw any benefit to memorializing the area… that is until people started dying from COVID-19. Our crematorium was the only usable one available in the area and so they started to bring us the dead… sometimes three or four and even five a day.

With nearly every funeral came family members who waited for three to five hours for the bodies to be burned. In appreciation for our services the hospitals and family members gave donations and with some of that money we started fixing up the place around the crematorium. We first added a seat in the shade for the families and Monks to wait.

Next was a sidewalk to the area where the bones and ashes are taken out of the burner, because that area gets quite muddy during the rainy season. 

And since we had the cement and brick, we decided to build a Lotus pond, in the place where the beans were growing, as a fitting memorial… but what Lotus pond is complete without a Buddha, and where would we find a Cheap Buddha? 

Unbeknown to me, there is a monk not far from us who makes hundreds of solid cement Buddhas in all sizes, and was very happy to give us a great deal on one.

Moving it was a problem, however, since it weighs several hundred pounds… but working together we finally got it into place. Only then did they tell me that the Buddha needed to be covered.

And so here we are today… work still needs to be done on the gardens and painting but I am very happy that the once forgotten piece of land is finally being used as a memorial to both the AIDS victims and those who are dying from COVID-19. Today we had two more cremations which brings the total to 128 since May of this year, and there is no end in sight.

Thanks for stopping in!

The Partners